The Sabatier reaction

The Sabatier reaction

Paul Sabatier discovered how to facilitate the addition of hydrogen to molecules of carbon compounds.  He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this process in 1912.

In one Sabatier reaction (referred to as the ‘Global Reaction’), carbon dioxide is converted to methane in the presence of hydrogen.  This Sabatier reaction can be represented by:

CO + 4HCH + 2HO

The above reaction has been studied extensively as a means of converting carbon dioxide emissions, from fossil fuel combustion, to methane.  The methane produced is then capable of further combustion.  NASA intends using the Sabatier reaction on the space station to produce water for consumption by astronauts and as a means of utilizing atmospheric carbon dioxide on Mars to produce methane for fuel.

Carbon dioxide emissions recycling via the Sabatier reaction is recognized internationally as a potential means of removing and utilizing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion.  Carbon dioxide and hydrogen react in the gaseous phase to produce methane which avoids expensive carbon dioxide capture, transport and geologic sequestration.  Using the Sabatier reaction, carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere are decreased considerably, and theoretically, could be eliminated.

Much work has been completed throughout the world researching ideal conditions for the production of methane in the Sabatier reaction.  View a technical presentation by the Desert Research Institute in Nevada.  [See abstract of published article by same authors.  Carbon dioxide recycling by reaction with renewably generated hydrogen.]

Many successful experiments utilizing the Sabatier reaction have been described.  One group of experiments used a ruthenium catalyst in a microchannel reactor.  [See abstract of article.  Methanation of carbon dioxide by hydrogen reduction using the Sabatier process in microchannel reactors.]

It has been claimed that a 98 per cent conversion of carbon dioxide to methane has been achieved at a temperature of around 350°C.  [See article.  The Sabatier Reaction, Possible Solution to CO₂ Emissions.]  Early experimental work has demonstrated also that conversion of carbon dioxide to methane is possible at room temperature and atmospheric pressure under appropriate conditions.   [See abstract of Letter to Nature titled Methanation and photo-methanation of carbon dioxide at room temperature and atmospheric pressure.]

However, for the above Sabatier reactions to be economically viable, large amounts of hydrogen need to be produced at relatively low cost.  The process developed by Unique Global Possibilities, utilizing carbon dioxide to facilitate the splitting of water, is able to produce hydrogen at a lower cost than standard electrolysis of water.  The small amount of carbon dioxide that is used to split water can be recycled continuously under moderate pressure (two to three atmospheres) or can be replaced continuously from carbon dioxide emissions.  The hydrogen produced by the process can by utilized to react with carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion to produce methane.

In the process developed by Unique Global Possibilities, hydrogen can be produced from protons derived from a carbon dioxide/water mixture.  The power for this process can be derived from excess renewable energy.  Thus excess renewable energy can be stored as hydrogen or methane.

Subject to engineering constraints, and the availability of excess renewable energy, the majority of carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels can be eliminated or recycled economically utilizing the above process.

In the process developed by Unique Global Possibilities, oxygen produced at an anode can be either stored or utilized in the Oxyfuel combustion of fossil fuels which decreases the nitrogenous compounds formed when fossil fuels, particularly coal, are combusted in air.  [Air consists of 78 per cent nitrogen.]  Utilizing Oxyfuel combustion, there are substantial decreases in atmospheric pollution due to nitrogenous compounds.


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© 2013 Unique Global Possibilities, Inc.

Electrolysis of water

Carbon dioxide and the splitting of water